Should I consult an attorney when applying for Mediaid for my 89-year-old mother to cover her stay in a nursing home?

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My mother's only asset is her home valued at $30,000. and her $997. monthly Social Security payment. No savings left, lives from SS check to SS check. My brother is planning to buy her house, and from what I hear it would be more advantageous if he is the caretaker and actually makes the purchase after she passes. At that point we could recoup maintenence costs for the home before the Pennsylvania Estate Recovery kicks in. Is this accurate? Any advice?

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It sounds like your mother would definitely qualify for Medicaid now, based on her low assets and income. The house is exempt while she lives, but can be attached by the state for recoupment of the money it spends on your mother (under Medicaid) following her death. At that point it will be too late to claim reimbursement for upkeep, unless you file annually updated liens against the house for such debts.

If your brother purchases the house, then your mother would have to spend down or otherwise reduce her assets down to $2,000. It is possible that she can hire your brother for extra personal services, under a personal services contract, as a way to reduce or eliminate the extra cash. In some states she could pay his a lump sum in exchange for a promise of lifetime care; I am not familiar with whether PA allows this or not, so you'd need to check with the state or an elder law attorney on that point.

There are other possible ways to protect her assets, which I discuss in my book, Medicaid Secrets. Best of luck to your family!
We have a resident expert on this board that (hopefully) will see this post and help you soon.

K. Gabriel Heiser is an Attorney, and author, with a book on Medicaid asset protection planning.

There are articles he has written on this subject, and hopefully he will respond to your question.

God bless.
"Fair Market Value" of her home & property will be important.
You need to have something done by appraiser or blue book
for a clear reference.

My SIL and her siblings went the" let the state take the property route" in New Mexico for her mom - tax roll appraisal was around 150/175K but if it had to go to sale maybe could get 50K because of repairs needed. And since she was over 65 and disabled with her property taxes frozen, they never bothered to challenge the tax assesors increase in value over the years. Because of sibling in-fighting nothing has been done to the house, just sitting there deteriorating for a decade. Although they did pay the property taxes which was minimal for property in the area.

She passed away in the summer. It seems the state doesn't really want the property but has a lien on it from Medicaid payments to SNF of over 400K. Now one of the grandkids wants to buy the house but state wants the county tax assesors valuation. It's a mess that could have been avoided with paperwork in place.

You know 30K is really low for land with a house. What is it based on?

I too want to see Mr. Heiser's input on this.
Good Luck!
I already had a market analysis done by several realtors and they said that it should be listed for sale in the low 30s. Certainly I hope to have my mother for many years, so the Medicaid payments would far exceed the full value of her estate, being that her one and only asset is that property. I just don't think that selling it now and letting the nursing home take the money now, and leave her penniless. It seems that hanging on to the property is better in the event of something unforeseen comes up and to insure that we do have money for her final expenses, ie funeral, burial, etc., but we would have to maintain the property during that time as well, so it seems that at least some of that money should be able to come from the value of the property itself as well. Certainly this is complicated of secure such a tiny bit of wealth, but I feel that for a woman who worked all her life, raised 6 kids on a shoestring, the least I can do is see her as best I can financially through her final years. Hoping too for Mr. Heiser's advice on this!
Thank you Gabriel for all your help!!
Yes! Thank you! That is all very helpful!

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